Prattville – It was “Who Dat Prattville” on Wednesday night at Beef O’Brady’s as the New Orleans Saints and the city’s own Roman Harper were celebrated after winning the NFC Championship game on January 24, making it possible to advance to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Harper played football at Pratville High School, was a three-year starter at the University of Alabama, and got drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. During the game that clinched the division championship, Harper had six solo tackles, one assist, and caused one fumble against the Minnesota Vikings.
Inside Beef O’Brady’s, about sixty black and gold balloons hung from the ceiling and adorned Harper’s “41” jersey. Signatures were being collected on a yellow sheet with a Saints emblem at the entrance so that the personal sentiments could be sent to Harper next week.
One of the restaurant’s owners, Eric Hyde, said that the sheet would perhaps be also taken to the schools so that students and teachers would have an opportunity to write a message of encouragement to Harper.
“We will hand this over to Roman’s father, Coach Harper (Prattville High School freshmen coach), next week so that he can take it to him in Miami and perhaps hang it in his hotel room,” said Hyde. “I know that everyone here feels great that a local kid will be going to the Super Bowl.”
When asked to predict the score of Super Bowl 44, Hyde hesitated a bit but then stated that he was going to “pull a mayor” and just say that it’s going to be a great game and not offer any numbers.
And sure enough, when asked to forecast the final points tally, Mayor Jim Byard Jr. who was dining in a booth with his two sons affably replied, “The Saints are going to win.”
Prattville High School student, Talia Harper, is proud of her older brother, and offered him some words of encouragement.
“Just go out there and play well like I know you can,” she said. “I’ve said it all year long and you’ve done so well so far.”
In addition to his sister and other family members, the parents of the Saints safety, Coach Ronald Harper and his wife Princess, were in attendance to enjoy the hometown allegiance that was shown for their son and his team. Between the two of them, there is always one parent at a Saints game.
“I missed the Buffalo game and she went to Buffalo,” Coach Harper said.
“And I missed Philadelphia,” said Princess.
“So I went to Philadelphia,” the coach continued.
According to his dad, Roman had been interested in sports other than football earlier in his life.
“He played basketball and played baseball for one year, but then mama kind of talked him out of that because it lasted too long,” chuckled the elder Harper. “There would be some all-day games!”
Roman’s mom may not have wanted to sit all day in the stands watching the bat-and-ball sport, but she is indeed proud of his accomplishments on the gridiron and shows her love by cooking her son’s favorite dishes.
“When we go to New Orleans, we don’t go out. I cook macaroni and cheese, fried pork chops, creamed potatoes, steak, and potato pies,” Princess said.
It seems that Roman is not the only one who adores mama’s homemade desserts.
“Yeah, a couple of coaches said they were going to intercept those pies,” Coach Harper said laughing. “They were saying Roman was too big … he didn’t need them.”
And as far as number predictions, the coach said that all he wanted was a “W.”
Article by Melissa Parker
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